John Webb's Windmill is open to the public 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays, from Easter to end of September.
Built in 1804, John Webb's Windmill is a tower mill and is the only remaining windmill in Thaxted. This windmill is the largest and most advanced of all the Thaxted mills and it worked for a hundred years. Built to satisfy a growing demand for flour at a time of agricultural expansion, it was constructed from local materials, with the bricks being made and fired half a mile away in the Chelmer valley. John Webb owned the farmland on which the mill was built.
A gallery at first floor level surrounded the mill and was used for easy loading and unloading from carts and waggons, but when the mill was first built it was from this gallery that the sweeps, i.e. the sails, were individually adjusted to suit the wind. This was when spring sails were fitted. Later these were replaced with patent sails and thereafter all four sails could be adjusted at one time by the use of an invention known as a 'spider', which is a centrally controlled system of levers.
By 1907 the mill was uneconomic to work and when offered for auction it failed to sell. For years it was a playground for local children until in the 1930s some repairs were carried out so that it could be used as a scout and youth centre. By the late 1950s it was again derelict and in need of repair, and so it remained until 1970 when a Trust was formed to restore the building and open it to the public as a rural museum. Restoration work has been carried out in stages, and in 1991 the sails were re-erected and turned for the first time in almost 85 years. In 1996 one set of stones were restored and once again it can claim to be a working mill capable of grinding grain into flour. Since the work started, well over £100,000.00 has been spend on the restoration, of which some 70% has been raised by open days and fund raising with the balance coming from various grants. The museum has developed greatly and covers a wide range of exhibits and is an added attraction for visitors to the mill.
Although the mill is owned by the Parish, restoration has been made possible through the enthusiasm of many volunteers, and by the support of many visitors.
There is a picnic area surrounding the Windmill, along with benches to sit and take in the lovely views.
Midweek private parties by prior arrangement.
Contact Len Farren on 01371 830285
Entry is free but donations are welcomed.